Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is greeted by 1st grade students at Burnley-Moran Elementary School in Charlottesville. McAuliffe visited the school Tuesday to sign three education bills into law.

Students and school divisions across the Commonwealth will now have increased flexibility when taking and administering state tests.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Tuesday visited Burnley-Moran Elementary School, where he signed three bills into law.

“More than a decade ago, Virginia led the nation in the formation of statewide standards,” McAuliffe said. “Now I intend to ensure that we lead the nation on accountability reform.” 

The first bill the Governor signed charges the Virginia Board of Education with establishing multiple levels of accreditation, which is the state system that evaluates whether or not schools achieved or surpassed pass rates on math, English, science and history Standards of Learning exams from the previous years.

“If a school improves substantially from year to year, we want to recognize that progress, even if the school has yet to meet the standards established from our expectations,” McAuliffe said.

“We can still hold our schools, our students and our teachers to a high standard while rewarding those making improvements in achieving real progress,” he added.

McAuliffe also signed two bills that will give elementary and middle school students the option of retaking SOL tests that they do not pass, except the writing test. Currently, high school students are given the opportunity to retake tests, as students must pass the exams to graduate.

Earlier in his administration, McAuliffe signed legislation that reduced the number of SOL tests students must take by 5, from 22 to 17, and to establish the SOL Innovation Committee, which met at Burnley-Moran following the bill signing.

As the SOL Innovation Committee continues to meet, McAuliffe said he has encouraged the body to consider the needs of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, as well as the potential for eliminating more tests.

“Learning to memorize will not do you any good in the future,” McAuliffe said. “We need to get back to creative thinking and that’s why we talk so much about reforming the Standards of Learning.”